As an organisation starts to accelerate its growth, there will come a point at which the need to upskill HR competence is recognised. This could be triggered by an event – a change in employment law (remember GDPR?), an absence or performance problem, your first maternity leave request, a new training need, or just by a growing realisation that ‘the person responsible for HR issues’ is feeling the strain and needs a bit more support.
Often this person has a broad remit – they might be the Office Manager, PA or a trusted Admin Assistant with an interest in HR. They’re probably accurate, efficient, friendly and are likely to be early in their career. They may show the potential to grow with the business, to build and lead a great HR support service in the future. But they might not be ready to do that on their own right now. They might report into a senior leader – maybe the FD or COO, but that person has probably stretched themselves and not really, in truth, an HR expert.
These are the kinds of scenarios where an experienced, external HR Mentor can really help. A source of knowledge and expertise, with access to specialist contacts or additional resources, a supportive HR Mentor can guide an internal HR lead through a pressing challenge and, over time, help them develop into an independent, skilled HR professional. Having access to such a mentor can build the HR lead’s, and therefore the organisation’s confidence by being someone to test ideas with, confirm or clarify their employment-related knowledge and recommend partners and suppliers as you look to expand your employee offering.
So, what does a good HR mentor look like?
We think a good HR mentor is someone who already knows what ‘good looks like’. They will have first-hand experience of working with a range of businesses, both established and growing. They will have seen it go well, and also go wrong. They will have had hands-on experience in different roles and at different levels so that they can help with any query – Employee Relations, Employment Law, Talent Development, Reward, Recruitment, Engagement, Strategy, Communications – HR in a growing business will touch on all of these and a good HR mentor will be able to contribute to any of them.
On a personal basis, a mentor will need to be a good listener, a problem-solver and a coach. Flexible and accessible, positive and supportive, they will be able to quickly build trust and will be happy to be in the background.
HR mentoring can help an established HR professional too.
Of course, even a strong HR Manager can benefit from having access to an independent HR mentor. Many successful business people will recognise the value they have drawn from having a mentor throughout their developing career and larger organisations will often run an in-house mentoring scheme for their talent pool. For smaller organisations, this might not be feasible, but giving your HR Manager access to an independent HR mentor shows that you are willing to invest in their continuing development and that you value the contribution their role brings.
If you would like to discuss HR Mentoring, please get in touch at HR@ifteam.co.uk.
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